Why Is Blue So Rare In Nature?

  • Published: 09 January 2018
  • Duh, except for the sky… and the ocean…
    Don't miss our next video! SUBSCRIBE! ►► bit.ly/iotbs_sub
    ↓↓↓ More info and sources below ↓↓↓

    Among living things, the color blue is oddly rare. Blue rocks, blue sky, blue water, sure. But blue animals? They are few and far between. And the ones that do make blue? They make it in some very strange and special ways compared to other colors. In this video, we'll look at some very cool butterflies to help us learn how living things make blue, and why this beautiful hue is so rare in nature.

    Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of Natural History
    Bob Robbins, Ph.D. - Curator of Lepidoptera
    Juan Pablo Hurtado Padilla - Microscope Educator

    Richard Prum, Ph.D. - Yale University
    Vinothan Manoharan, Ph.D. - Harvard University


    Bagnara, J. T., Fernandez, P. J., & Fujii, R. (2007). On the blue coloration of vertebrates. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, 20(1), 14-26.

    Cuthill, I. C., Allen, W. L., Arbuckle, K., Caspers, B., Chaplin, G., Hauber, M. E., ... & Mappes, J. (2017). The biology of color. Science, 357(6350), eaan0221.

    Kinoshita, S., Yoshioka, S., & Miyazaki, J. (2008). Physics of structural colors. Reports on Progress in Physics, 71(7), 076401.

    Kinoshita, S. (2008). Structural colors in the realm of nature. World Scientific.

    Prum, R. O., Quinn, T., & Torres, R. H. (2006). Anatomically diverse butterfly scales all produce structural colours by coherent scattering. Journal of Experimental Biology, 209(4), 748-765.

    Vukusic, P., & Sambles, J. R. (2003). Photonic structures in biology. Nature, 424(6950), 852-855.

    Vukusic, P., Sambles, J. R., Lawrence, C. R., & Wootton, R. J. (1999). Quantified interference and diffraction in single Morpho butterfly scales. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 266(1427), 1403-1411.


    Merch: store.dftba.com/collections/its-okay-to-be-smart
    Facebook: facebook.com/itsokaytobesmart
    Twitter:@DrJoeHanson @okaytobesmart
    Tumblr: itsokaytobesmart.com
    Instagram: @DrJoeHanson


    It's Okay To Be Smart is hosted by Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
    Director: Joe Nicolosi
    Writer: Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
    Producer/editor/animator: Jordan Husmann
    Producer: Stephanie Noone and Amanda Fox

    Produced by PBS Digital Studios
    Music via APM

Comments • 11 240

  • It's Okay To Be Smart
    It's Okay To Be Smart   2 years back

    You never notice how rare blue is, until you do, and then you (don't) see it *everywhere*.

    Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this week's video! And commence the blue-pun party

    • tiff martin
      tiff martin  3 weeks back

      How do octopus change to blue?

    • Carolyn Ott
      Carolyn Ott  4 weeks back

      It's Okay To Be Smart Great information! The blue creatures having just the right bend on them to make the blue. And something called evolution developed it? What a great fairy tale to tell my kids at night! Well, maybe I’ll stick to Almighty God whom you don’t want to believe in because then you’d have to acknowledge something greater than yourself. Because He is real and all-powerful, and all-knowing and told us He made everything and it was good! You know until humans decided to disobey Him and caused the curse upon everything. that’s what made the aberrations you see. But I guess you’ll keep believing in your fairy tales which cannot be proven. Both are belief systems. Yours isn’t just illogical because it has no basis. No cause. No beginning.

    • Yazhini Varman
      Yazhini Varman  1 months back

      You can't ask a question like Why is blue so rare in nature and stick to the animal kingdom and not talk the plants. So many facts could have been stated in this video.

    • Kokilaya kokilaya
      Kokilaya kokilaya  1 months back

      What if I live in a beach

  • Jobi J.
    Jobi J.  6 hours back

    Its not rare i have a blue pet sign and a blue pet car :)

    • ashif ragib
      ashif ragib  14 hours back

      u say our eye colour is not due to
      some pigment......but it actually changes
      cause of the abundance of melanosite pigment.....
      there's actually a laser surgery that could break this
      pigment & turn brown eyes to blue eyes permanently.......

      • bobby boucher
        bobby boucher  1 days back

        Its because your blind, the birds and bf are all over

        • Roi R. Czechvala
          Roi R. Czechvala  2 days back

          "I'm a male, and this is my territory."

          • AB CD
            AB CD  2 days back

            rip butterflies

            • Bubbles
              Bubbles  2 days back

              Why is red so raw !

              • Tm X
                Tm X  3 days back

                I dont think this answered in anyway to the question of why blue is rare?

                • Anthony Pascale
                  Anthony Pascale  3 days back

                  Wow butterflies are way cool and cool shirt!! I consider myself fairly smart and I learned about blue today so it was a great day... knowledge is power people.....read listen watch absorb learn regurgitate to others...

                  • Mymy Lastname
                    Mymy Lastname  3 days back


                    • Robert Marley
                      Robert Marley  4 days back

                      There is a blue hound dog

                      • BehEmineceX
                        BehEmineceX  4 days back

                        2:50 if there was one more zoom we would have seen the quantum realm

                        • Sabitha Safar
                          Sabitha Safar  5 days back

                          blue my mind

                          • spleenery
                            spleenery  5 days back

                            This is such a cool topic!

                            • Avenged
                              Avenged  5 days back

                              So is your top blue lol

                              • William Peng
                                William Peng  5 days back

                                Imagine a blue guinea pig

                                • enter a name here
                                  enter a name here  6 days back

                                  I have blue balls. Give me your number I’ll send a pic

                                  • B G
                                    B G  6 days back

                                    They are the freaks of nature, with their non pigmented selves....AWESOME

                                    • Alyssa Vela
                                      Alyssa Vela  6 days back

                                      what about the blue man....

                                      • Liza chaudhury
                                        Liza chaudhury  7 days back

                                        but our planet is blue

                                        • Gee
                                          Gee  1 weeks back

                                          06:03 *whatches Love, Death and Robots (a series) *
                                          *sees colour *
                                          *gasp * ZIMA BLUE!

                                          • Stace Irving
                                            Stace Irving  1 weeks back

                                            I think this was the first It's Okay To Be Smart video my kids watched (they're 7 and 9), and now they're totally hooked. So informative, and presented really well. Thanks heaps!

                                            • fez
                                              fez  1 weeks back

                                              Did that monkey have blue balls???

                                              • Toxic maniax
                                                Toxic maniax  1 weeks back

                                                I saw blue fly. It was so creepy. I hate bugs

                                                • Denny Money
                                                  Denny Money  1 weeks back

                                                  How are the whiteflash electric blue cichlids blue? I'm so curious!!

                                                  • Alto Paringitermsultimate

                                                    blue is rare because we kill blue :( And Blue vs Purple Blue wins cause in nature Blue is rare

                                                    • Jiggermansan
                                                      Jiggermansan  1 weeks back

                                                      I dont know what world you live in but...

                                                      Yo listen up, here's the story
                                                      About a little guy that lives in a blue world
                                                      And all day and all night and everything he sees is just blue
                                                      Like him, inside and outside
                                                      Blue his house with a blue little window
                                                      And a blue Corvette
                                                      And everything is blue for him
                                                      And himself and everybody around
                                                      'Cause he ain't got nobody to listen

                                                      Edit: I'm blue da ba dee da ba daa...

                                                      • Jiggermansan
                                                        Jiggermansan  1 weeks back

                                                        I'm blue da ba dee da ba daa...

                                                        • sneha p
                                                          sneha p  1 weeks back

                                                          So the blue dye for clothes is a pigment right?

                                                          • ULTRATECH GAMING
                                                            ULTRATECH GAMING  1 weeks back

                                                            This BLUE my mind

                                                            • stay weird or die normal

                                                              uhhhhh the blue butterfly the sea the sky the sea is very large

                                                              • Titanus Rodan
                                                                Titanus Rodan  2 weeks back

                                                                But Oggy, And Gumball? They're blue

                                                                • champagnecoloredeyes
                                                                  champagnecoloredeyes  2 weeks back

                                                                  Butterflies are just colorful moths 🦋 yuck 🤢

                                                                  • Okomonaki天国
                                                                    Okomonaki天国  2 weeks back

                                                                    Im sorry but how about the sea

                                                                    • EverHeardOfSlade
                                                                      EverHeardOfSlade  2 weeks back

                                                                      What about blue in plants?

                                                                      • Wh1te_brikkz
                                                                        Wh1te_brikkz  2 weeks back


                                                                        • Kamilah Griggs
                                                                          Kamilah Griggs  2 weeks back

                                                                          It’s crazy to me that every single living thing has a highly detailed blueprint that makes it what it is

                                                                          • ndjkamdkja Alparslan
                                                                            ndjkamdkja Alparslan  2 weeks back

                                                                            Because it is my favourite color.

                                                                            • Got Bread?
                                                                              Got Bread?  2 weeks back

                                                                              “There’s even... a _monkey–“_

                                                                              • Fancy gamer
                                                                                Fancy gamer  2 weeks back

                                                                                Blue is rare in nature

                                                                                The whole planet and sky is blue

                                                                                • Alexa Penn
                                                                                  Alexa Penn  2 weeks back

                                                                                  Wow! great vid. i still don't really understand the physics of it, but found this so interesting. subscribed right away - can't wait to see more. Thanks :}

                                                                                  • Immortal Ideas
                                                                                    Immortal Ideas  2 weeks back

                                                                                    Blue eyes dont exsist

                                                                                    • Smiley Wendel
                                                                                      Smiley Wendel  2 weeks back

                                                                                      What about pink?

                                                                                      • Nonexistent Nova
                                                                                        Nonexistent Nova  2 weeks back

                                                                                        Me: You’re right....I almost never see blue.
                                                                                        Also me: *Looks at sky* Nevermind.

                                                                                        • Alex Jeanette
                                                                                          Alex Jeanette  2 weeks back

                                                                                          p u r p l e i s m o r e r a r e

                                                                                          • Keith
                                                                                            Keith  2 weeks back

                                                                                            I have a Blue house with a Blue window
                                                                                            Blue is the color of all that I wear
                                                                                            Blue are the streets and all the trees are too
                                                                                            I have a girlfriend and she is so Blue!

                                                                                            • Keith
                                                                                              Keith  2 weeks back

                                                                                              This song sings appropriate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA52uNzx7Y4

                                                                                              • Richard Slocum
                                                                                                Richard Slocum  2 weeks back

                                                                                                Where does blue come from? The animals engineered it. Ok